Organic National Pickling Cucumbers in a brine mix.

How To Grow Organic National Pickling Cucumber

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Organic national pickling cucumbers are perfect for making delicious pickled cucumbers. This guide will help you produce the ideal national pickling cucumbers and show you how to care for them properly.

National pickling cucumber is suitable for making all types of pickles. Typically, it grows from seeds planted indoors or outdoors, producing dark green cylindrical fruits of 5-6 inches, and it takes around 50-60 days to mature. It likes hot temperatures to grow. 

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Although it takes some time to grow national pickling cucumbers, it is relatively easy to do, and it is also very prolific. Let’s see how to get it done.

What Is National Pickling Cucumber?

How To Grow Organic National Pickling Cucumber is described in detail at FarmerJer.com.

National pickling cucumber is used to make all types of pickles, as it is a fruit cultivated as a vegetable. It is also a multi-purpose cucumber. If you let it grow to 7 or 8 inches, you can use it as a slicing cucumber. It has thick, dark green skin perfect for great pickles, and they are the most widely used pickling cucumbers, despite other varieties. (source)

The plant needs up to 65 days to mature and continuously produces a heavy yield of cucumbers through the season. Therefore you need to give it plenty of space to sprawl and grow. 

Many believe that cucumbers came from the Himalayan Mountains and were already growing 3000 years ago. From there, they moved to Greece, Rome, and Europe. From Europe, it moved to the rest of the world. 

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But, national pickling cucumbers are a variety of cucumbers developed in Michigan State in 1924 to produce a pickle that would be good for small and large pickles. (source)

What Are The Health Benefits Of Cucumbers?

What Are The Health Benefits Of Cucumbers? We explain at FarmerJer.com.

Most people think of cucumbers as a vegetable; however, it is a fruit high in nutrients. Cucumbers are low in calories but high in water, vitamins, minerals, and soluble fibers, perfect for keeping hydrated and aiding weight loss. (source)

Significant Benefits Of Cucumbers

  • It Contains Many Antioxidants

Antioxidants block oxidation. Oxidation is the cause of the formation of free radicals. When too many free radicals exist, several chronic illnesses, such as cancer and heart and autoimmune lung disease, can arise. 

  • It Is High In Nutrients

It contains vitamins, minerals, and fibers.

  • It helps hydration

keeping hydrated is essential to physical performance and metabolism. Cucumbers can play a big part in supplementing water intake from food. Cucumber is made of 96% of water and thus perfect for maintaining good hydration levels.

  • It May Help In Weight Loss And Decrease Blood Sugar Levels

Due to the high water and low-calorie content, it can be added in great quantity to the diet with benefits in weight loss.

  • It Supports Regular Bowel Movements

Due to the high water and fiber content, it helps combat constipation.

  • It Supports Bone Health

The vitamin K content combats blood clotting and bone health.

  • Combat Inflammation

Inflammation can create various health conditions, such as depression, autoimmune disorders, diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular diseases 

  • Skincare

Cucumber nutrients support healthy skin. (source)

Let’s see how to grow them now. 

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How To Grow National Pickling Cucumbers

Farmer Jer's organic cucumbers growing in Hamilton, Ontario in 2022.
Here’s a fine specimen I grew in 2022 in my backyard urban micro-farming garden in Hamilton, Ontario.

National pickling cucumbers are very prolific and like growing vertically when possible. They are straightforward to plant and grow, providing the wheater conditions are appropriate. In the growing stage, there are only a few things to do, mainly taking care of watering and removing any danger, like fungus infections, and protecting them from dangerous insects.

Here is the procedure to grow national pickling cucumbers: (source)

Sow The Seeds

It is way better to sow the seeds directly outdoors. This plant doesn’t like transplanting; therefore, try to avoid it if possible. Wait one or two weeks after the last frost; the soil is slightly warmer. The temperature needs to be minimally 60 F or better, 80 F. If the weather change to a colder climate, you should cover the seeds or the seedlings. 

It is possible to sow the seeds in rows or hills. It is best to sow the seeds 1.5 inches deep. If you are planting in rows, sow the seeds 2 to 3 inches apart; if you are sowing the seeds in hills, plant four to five seeds per hill. 

The soil is best at 5.5 PH, well-drained, and with high nitrogen content. Once you see the seeds, cover the seeds lightly with soil. Water it on planting day, and if there is no rain, every two to three days until they germinate.

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Pro Tip: Grab yourself a seed sowing tool kit. Even if you don’t use it for cucumbers due to seed size, I use mine to open the perfect hole to drop my cucumber seeds into. The dispenser works great for smaller seed dispensation and makes a great hole for seed sowing for most seeds.

Watering

After sowing the seeds, you should water the soil and keep it moist. You always give it fertilizer high in nitrogen if you think it is necessary. Make sure to water the plant when required, typically every two to three days. 

Use your fingers and stick that in the soil to check if it is dry. Suppose it is dry; water it properly. Remember that cucumbers are made primarily of water; therefore, water should be consistent for juicy fruits.

If it rains, adjust the water level; the soil must be consistently moist. Therefore even too much water can be damaging. But poor or inconsistent watering can cause irregular growth and cause the cucumber to come out with an odd shape.

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Pro Tip: If you don’t have a watering wand for your hose, I have to ask – what on Earth are you using? I love my watering wand, which makes watering specific plants at the base easy, avoiding things like powdery mildew, which I’ve found my cucumbers seem susceptible to.

Growing Phase 

National pickling cucumber is ready to harvest between 50 to 60 days from planting and can be harvested within several weeks, while germination takes 7-10 days. 

If you can place a trellis to help the plant climb, do so. If you let them climb, they can reach up to 48 inches. If you do not provide a trellis, the plant will spread over the ground; therefore, if you want to save space, the best solution is to use a trellis. 

More experienced gardeners plant cucumbers with corn so that the cucumber can climb the corn if needed. Or they used a technique called “Three Sisters,” which consists of planting cucumber, squash, or climbing beans with corn so those plants can help each other. Squash and beans will climb the corns. 

If you use hills to sow seeds, you must thin the grown plant leave.ng only two or three seedlings to raise. Keeping the soil moist is essential. You can apply a mulch of straw to keep it moist when the vines develop. 

Additionally, verify if cucumber beetles appear. If so, remove them immediately.  

Harvesting

It is essential to pick cucumbers when they are ready. They may develop a bitter flavor if left for too long on the vine. But you can’t like them all simultaneously; they can mature at different times from each other. The typical time for them to grow is between 50 to 70 days. One has to pick each cucumber once it reaches maturity.

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You can understand that cucumber is ready to be selected from the typical color and size it should have when fully matured. A ripe cucumber becomes dark green; however, check the seed packet to figure out how it should look. (source)

Pro Tip: I’ve got a substantial amount of tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, and other vegetables to harvest yearly. One of the best tools I’ve got for harvesting is a setup that I include both a harvest basket and a garden cart. What I love about Fiskars harvest basket is that one side is a strainer, so I can use my watering wand to pre-wash freshly picked vegetables before bringing them inside the house. The cart works really well for harvesting large amounts of vegetables, and I would be lost without it.

Picking Cucumbers 

In picking cucumbers, leave a one-inch section of the stem attached to the cucumber to prevent the stem from rotting while in storage if the cucumber is for later use. The best way to do it is to use a sharp knife to cut the cucumber. 

Another essential reason for picking the cucumbers when they are ready, the plant is encouraged to produce longer throughout the season. It is possible to leave a cucumber to grow as large as possible; however, the flower is not the same as if picked up earlier. 

Pro Tip: Keeping a few pairs of sharp garden snips is perfect for harvest time. I like keeping a few snips, one in my harvest basket, one in the back by my gardening tools, and another in my garden cart tool tray. This way, I’ve always got a pair handy for harvesting or pruning.

Conservation

Once picked, cucumbers can stay in a refrigerator for about a week, do not put them in plastic bags or lidded containers. When the end of a cucumber starts to become yellowish and puffy or has sunken areas or present wrinkles, it indicates that the cucumber has passed its most mature point. If that happens, you should avoid harvesting them because they are not fit for consumption. 

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A cucumber can become yellow because of a virus or have received too much water. But if this happens, you should be able to understand that this is the reason.

Take a look at my favorite (and cheap) A-Frame Cucumber Trellis here.

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Growing Cucumber From Transplanting

If you started the national pickling indoor, there are only a few things you need to do in addition to the above steps. 

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You should start planting indoors in a container 4 to 6 weeks before the transplanting. You still have to ensure the correct season and the appropriate temperature. The soil should still have a PH of 5.5 and still contain nitrogen. 

Once you have sowed the seeds, wait until two or three leaves appear on each plant, you should cut everything besides the most robust plant with scissors. Before planting them outside, you should still harden the seedling by letting them out for an hour during the day. The following days do it for more extended periods before the actual planting. 

You can plant them on a hill or raw. Once planted, follow the instructions above to take care of it until harvesting. (source)

Pickling Cucumber Varieties

BOSTON PICKLINGIt is suitable for both pickling and slicing. Three to six-inch-long, bright green fruits with crisp flesh grow on vigorous vines.
BURPEE PICKLERIt grows on long, vigorous vines and produces heavy yields of black-spined, medium-green fruit.
BUSH PICKLEIt is ideal for containers or smaller gardens. It has a compact, bushy growth habit and produces many green, four-to-five-inch fruits.
CALYPSOIt produces high yields of three-inch fruit, an inch in diameter. It was developed in North Carolina.
CAROLINAIt produces medium green fruits three to four inches long
FANCIPAKIt produces uniform fruit with tender skin and a blocky shape
HOMEMADE PICKLES ( OR SOUTHERN HOMEMADE PICKLES )It is a substantial bush variety that produces an abundance of five to six-inch fruits.
PICK A BUSHELIt is a semi-bush variety that produces a lot of sweet, crisp fruits with green skin.
SUPREMOIt is a Burpee hybrid cultivar with compact, bushy vines that produce a prolific harvest of three to four-inch, dark green, striped fruits.

General Care Tips

There are a few things to watch for when growing organic national picking cucumbers, like beetles, fungi, and other pests. You have to take prevention measures because when the plant is infected already, it may not recover.

Let’s go over some of the main dangers of national pickling cucumber.

Cucumber Beetles

One of these is the Cucumber Beetle. Cucumber beetles look striped or spotted and feed on the plant leaves. They can spread diseases from one plant to another; therefore, such a beetle can create a lot of damage. 

Preventing Cucumber Beets 

  • Routinely check your plant for the presence of Cucumber Beets so you can act when you see them.
  • Spray the seedling with surround, which is a type of clay that prevent beetles from getting on the plant
  • Use yellow sticky traps to catch them, also called lures. It would be best if you did not place them near the plant; otherwise, the beetles will still get on it, but in another location at a safe distance from your national pickling cucumber.
  • Use a handled vacuum to suck them. 
  • Cove the plant with a row cover; however, you have to remove it when it starts to flower.

Pesticides are possible, but since we are trying to grow National Pickling organically, they are not among the solutions. (source)

Squash Vine Borer

Other things can attack your plants, such as the Squash Vine Borer, fungus, and bacterial problems. It would be best if you used fungicides at the first sign of infestation. While Squash Vine Borer is a moth, it lays its eggs on a plant, and when the new larvae start digging or eating a plant’s lower stem, it kills it. 

Waiting for the cucumber to start to wilt to look for eventual Squash Vine Borers is too late. You can routinely check the stem of your plant for any sign of holes. (source)

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How To Prevent Or Resolve Such A Problem?

  • If you spot them early, you can remove them manually by cutting the stem lengthwise and removing the larvae. Make sure there isn’t more of it to remove and when done, cover the slit stem with soil.
  • Sprinkle diatomaceous soil around the stem or black pepper around the plant to protect it
  • In twilight or the early morning, those insects rest on leaves; therefore, you can catch them and remove them. 
  • Use yellow sticky traps. 

(source)

Looking for Organic National Pickling Cucumber seeds? Find some here.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some of the most commonly asked cucumber-growing questions. Let me know if you find this helpful.

What Is The Difference Between Pickling And Slicing Cucumbers?

Slicing cucumber is longer than pickling cucumber; they also have thinner skin and flashy meat, ideally suited for eating but not for making pickles. Pickling cucumber is shorter than slicing cucumber, while their meat and skin are thicker and crispier than slicing cucumbers. These qualities make them perfect for making pickles.

How Do You Control Cucumber Beetles Organically?

Cucumber beetles can be recognized because they are yellow and black; you can spot and strip them. The yellow makes them very visible and easy to spot. They used to chew on the leaves, but the main problem is transmitting a bacterial wilt disease, making plants die. But it can also spread several other viruses. 
For those who do not want to use pesticides, there are other methods to control and keep beetles away, such as handpicking, row covers, kaolin, or another plant as a disguise. You can also build traps to capture them. 

What Can You Not Plant Next To Cucumbers?

There are advantages to planting other types of plants near a cucumber plant. For example, it reduces the possibility of disease and pest attacks, providing shelter to beneficial insects. Plants that grow well with cucumber are peas, beans, clover, and other legumes. Legumes turn nitrates into the surrounding soil, which becomes available for companion plants. National Pickling Cucumbers thrive on earth with high nitrogen content. 
Other plants that can be beneficial are marigolds, nasturtiums, and tansy. They keep away beetles and other bugs. Avoid melon, sage, and potatoes instead.

How Many Cucumbers Can A Plant Produce?

Typically, a plant produces about ten cucumbers per plant, each being 6 ounces or 5 pounds of cucumbers per plant. Based on these numbers, it is possible to figure out how many plants to grow. Proper harvesting can increase the yield by picking cucumbers every other day. This way, the plant will keep producing its fruits for the entire season. 

Final Thoughts

It is straightforward to plant and grow organic National Pickling Cucumbers. It may take some work in the growing phase to make sure it is protected. But, once you follow the correct methods to saw, water, and harvest it, you should get a delicious National Pickling Cucumber.

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